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Applied Nanotechnology in the Coatings Industry pdf

Applied Nanotechnology in the Coatings Industry

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Nanotechnology is rightly called the technology of the future, and
nanotechnology is getting ever more important worldwide. Characteristic of
nanotechnology is the effect that – due to the nanoscale of system components –
new functionalities arise that lead to new or essentially improved product
This makes nanotechnology a novel bas ic technology which combines various
technological fields – such as chemistry, physics, biology and materials science.
The coatings industry, too, is already using nanotechnology in a number of
products. Here, I should mention that the coatings industry is a typical producer
of semi-finished products which fulfil their intended use only after application.
The coatings industry produces preparations by physically mixing chemical raw
materials and not by chemical conversion.
In Germany the coatings industry consists of some 250 companies with around
20,000 staff; the vast majority are small or mid-sized enterprises. Only some 10
out of these 250 companies can be considered large businesses; in this "group of
ten" the biggest company has a workforce of circa 2,000. By contrast, the
average coatings factory has only 80 staff and achieves sales of roughly
20 million euros per annum.
In the year 2005 the production volume in Germany was well over 2 million
tons of paints and coating materials, worth around 5 billion euros. The export
share is circa 35 percent – tendency rising.
The importance of the coatings industry to the overall economy is highlighted
best by one indicator: It is worth knowing that in Germany – like in all other
industrial countries – every year some 3 to 5 percent of the gross domestic
product are lost due to inadequate surface coating in negligent maintenance.
In the European Union there are around 2,500 coating producers with an annual
production volume of 6 million tons to the value of 17 billion euros.

The Application of Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology has been used for a long time in the coatings industry. Over
2,000 years ago the Roman architect Marcus Vitruvius Pollio wrote about the
skill of producing black pigment, describing how pine resin was burned in a
kiln. Worked into gum arabic, most of the soot became a writing substance. But
what is most important to us: Stucco workers mixed the remaining soot with
glue and used it as wall paint. Today we know that "antique soot" had
nanostructures. So much about the man whom one might call the father of
architectural literature.
More progress was achieved – with an enormous thrust in the past two decades
that saw the development of surface coatings with new and improved properties.
All the same, we are still at the very beginning of this development, and we
simply do not have enough imagination to describe the limits of what lies ahead
of us. Chances in materials optimization range from "hard like glass" to "soft
like polymers". Surface properties can be adjusted from water-wetting to totally
hydrophobic. Most importantly, this enables us to endow coatings with
additional functions, such as electric conductivity, catalytic activities, or
protection against ultraviolet radiation.
The best known example for a wider function of coatings is the self-cleaning of
surfaces – the so-called "lotus effect". Studies of the surface structure of lotus
leaves, which are so very clean, show that these leaves are not really smooth.
The firm adhes ion of dirt particles is prevented by small knobs in
nanodimensions. When it rains, dirt particles are easily removed from the leaf

Potential Risks of Nanotechnology

The manifold technological possibilities and the extraordinary potential that
nanotechnology offers for the coatings industry must not let us forget the safety
aspects of nano-products. The coatings industry accepts this responsibility and
faces mainly the following open questions:
• What effects do the various nanoparticles have on the human body, and
could these have negative consequences for human health?
• Nanoparticles are firmly embedded in the matrix - is their release possible?
• Which analytical methods need to be developed to determine
concentrations of nanoparticles at the workplace and in the environment?


The applied use of nanotechnology in paints and coating materials is a
technology leap which endows these products with extra functions. Progress
achieved in this field is not limited to improved surfaces – this progress also
makes essential contributions to the preservation of resources and a better
protection of human health and the environment. In principle, it cannot be
excluded that this new technology also involves risks so that further research is
necessary. However, as experience has been gathered with nanomaterials in
several industries for a very long time, there is no reason for hysteria.
Considerable financial means are needed for research and development in the
use of nanotechnology and for studies of potential risks. As described at the
beginning of my talk, the coatings industry in Europe is characterised by small
and mid-sized enterprises and cannot raise these funds on its own. Therefore, the
European Union and the Member States are called upon to make available the
financial means necessary to use the chances opened up by nanotechnology and
to eliminate possible risks.

Nanotechnology is affecting the field of consumer goods, several products incorporating nanomaterials are already in a variety of articles; many of which do not even realize that they contain nanoparticles, products with novel functions ranging from easy to clean to scratch resistant. Examples of car bumpers are lighter, clothing is more repellent than spots, sunscreen is more resistant to radiation, synthetic bones are stronger, cell phone screens are lighter, glass containers for drinks leads a longer lifespan and balls for various sports become more durable. Using nanotechnology in the medium term, modern textiles will become "smart" through "wearable electronics", such new products also have promising potential especially in the field of cosmetics and have numerous potential applications in heavy industry . Nanotechnology is expected to be the main driver of technology and business in this century and has the promise of higher performance materials, intelligent systems and new production methods with a significant impact on all aspects of society.

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